• Hughson T. Ong

Faith and Prayer: How often do you pray?

I often wonder how many times we Christians pray in a day, in a week, in a month...in a year. I think the number would greatly vary depending on one’s church and cultural background. Some have just been used to praying more often than others. Ultimately, however, I believe that prayer is a personal matter, and the number of times we pray is an indicator of our spiritual health or, more precisely, of how dependent we are on God in our daily lives.

Many Christians, especially those in leadership, often pray publicly on various occasions (chapel, sermon, church meetings, Bible study groups, etc.) for the Christian ministry, and for other people. More often than not, however, I observe that they seem to do it out of necessity. Prayers like this become a lip service, and this becomes apparent when their prayers and their actions don’t line up (Mt. 15:8; Jas. 3:10). It is important for me to note and highlight this, even though I will not address this issue here, because people have told me they’ve refused to believe in Christianity because of such behaviours.

A good starting point to gauge our dependence on God begins with this question: which areas of our life have we surrendered to God for him to take control of and lead us? I would imagine that most prayers are centered on personal needs—a present crisis, a request for blessing of some kind, a plea for physical healing, etc. Some offer their prayer to seek guidance, wisdom, and protection for a ministry or a mission work or a church activity, or on behalf of a pastor, missionary, or lay person.

It seems that few Christians actually pray to surrender daily every area of their life for God’s guidance and leadership.

I’ve been reminded from reading Luke’s Gospel, as I continue to use the book for teaching my courses in Bible college the past few years, about how Jesus himself prayed so often to his father. Jesus often prayed in private, spending long hours, sometimes even the entire night, surrendering himself to and seeking his father’s will (e.g. Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18; 9:28-29; 10:21; 11:1; 22:39-46; 23:34, 36; 11:5-13; 8:1-8; 22:31-32). His prayer gesture demonstrates his total dependence on the father for his daily life and the ministry God called him to accomplish. I encourage you to read these verses in Luke.

There have been a few instances in my life that brought me back to living a prayerful life, a life of surrender and acknowledgement that “apart from him we cannot do anything” (Jn. 15:5).

I know that sometimes people think of and say (silently) to me that this is a bit exaggerated, a thing too impractical and unrealistic for our day and age. We live in a highly-advanced technological and computerized world that forces us to focus on learning “what works” and “how we need to adapt and keep up with the societal trend.” And if only we are honest with ourselves, this is what actually occupies most of our time during the day.

There’s nothing wrong to busy ourselves with advancement and innovative ideas to make our jobs better or to keep our businesses running. However, this shouldn’t be the primary thing that occupies our time and consumes our energy. Contemporary society has been successful in squeezing Christianity into its mold. But if we believe that our present job, whatever that may be, is also our ministry to God and others, then prayer should be at the core of everything we do, so that God can start working his plans through and in us—this is actually nothing new; it’s simply what we read and learn from Scripture.